Peter Sagan (Cannondale) seemed to have done everything right during the seven hours of racing at Milan-San Remo, but then like a tenor failing to hit the right note, he was unable to find his often winning sprint and became an also-ran in the dash to the line, finishing 10th.
Sagan had been well protected by his teammates throughout the race, but he was alone in the front group that fought for victory on the San Remo sea front. He was forced to fight for the best wheels and stay on the wheels in the final kilometres and so was badly placed when the sprint began. He tried to come up behind Mark Cavendish, Sacha Modolo and Gerald Ciolek but the rain seemed to have extinguished his sprinting powers and the afterburners failed to ignite.
"This is not the result I expected but I suffered a lot the cold and the bad the weather. It was really not easy to perform as I wanted in the finale," Sagan said before heading home to his new base in nearby Monaco.
"I felt my legs blocked, and I wasn't able to sprint strong. It was a hard day, not so different compared to last year. I'm disappointed with this result but I have to accept it and look forward. I did my best in this condition and, with my team, we managed the race as we wanted."
The Cannondale team was 100% dedicated to setting up Sagan, using their seven riders to control much of the race. Several green jerseys dragged the peloton across the Lombardy plain and up the Passo Turchino to control the breakaway and others also did some sterling work on the Capo Mele, Cervo and Capo Berta.
Alessandro De Marchi deserved a special mention in dispatches for the way he attacked on the Cipressa with Sagan on his wheel, sparking an important selection on the climb through the olive groves and putting a lot of the sprinters in the red. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) interrupted their forcing on the front with his attack, but the Cannondale team again lead the chase on the flat road to the Poggio.
Only Sagan perhaps performed below his usual high expectations and was unable to finish off the team's ambitious strategy. Not surprisingly, he was keen to think ahead to the Classics in Belgium, rather than about his second consecutive failure at Milan-San Remo.
"We have nothing to regret," Sagan said. "I want to thank my teammates because they supported me in a such great way and worked a lot in front of the peloton."
"Now I want to turn the page quickly and to find new satisfaction in Belgium."